I hate it, but it makes me a better player

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LBS-bass, May 25, 2021.

  1. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I think I'm the opposite. I find a 5- or 6-string easier thanks in part to the extra range within a single position (not necessarily extra low or high notes available). If I'm playing by ear, I can just land on the right notes more readily with the extra strings.:cool: Now, whether or not I can tell you right away what those notes are is another matter entirely.:laugh: But the repeating cross-string interval patterns are more evident to me on a 5- or 6-string, which makes it easier to turn off my brain and just play.
  2. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    That's a distinct advantage and part of why I've been resisting switching. I think if I just had a little more stretch to my fingers I'd probably find it a lot easier, but alas I am just an old lady with little old lady fingers!
    Esteban Garcia likes this.
  3. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    After playing a fiver since 2012, I still grab the wrong string here and there, grabbing an E string when I meant to grab the A string, etc. Hang in there!
    basmartin and LBS-bass like this.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I'm right there with you. Tried to adapt to a 5, never quite did, ditched it but still kept in practice with it a little just in case. Did me well.
    instrumentalist, Winton and LBS-bass like this.
  5. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Yep, this. It's similar to putting on a backpack with extra weight while you work out. Makes doing the stuff with your normal weight feel so easy!
    /\/\3phist0 and Jazzdogg like this.
  6. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    Even though I have played one for several years I still don’t consider myself a five string player

    I’m a four string guy who can manage to play a five string
  7. Gustopher

    Gustopher Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2018
    In the case of songs written in Eb, that won’t really call for a 5er. Just keep a 4 tuned a half step lower. Now, modern country and stuff like that certainly uses lower notes than Eb and that will definitely be better on a 5 rather than a downtuned 4.
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  8. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Interesting, I'm just an old man with kind of stumpy old man fingers, but I guess I'm more sensitive to stretching (more accurately, shifting) up and down the fingerboard (horizontally) vs. stretching across strings (vertically). I can see how a wider finger board could be problematic.
  9. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    Would you mind explaining this? I've been playing fretless for years now (I don't play fretless regularly, but my intonation is very good), and honestly the one thing that helped my playing is just straight-up woodshedding, on whatever instrument I happen to be playing.
  10. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Oh, I shift a lot. My playing is very unorthodox due to my size. I bet if I held my hands up next to yours, they'd still be smaller.

    I did once use my small hands as an excuse for not starting on a standard scale bass, but there was a bassist in my area who could play rings around me and was also very small, with small hands. Watching him made me realize I had no excuses to make on that. So I did what he did; I learned to adjust and play in a way that worked for me. I just haven't found that yet on the fiver.
  11. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    There was a fiver at my house for about half of covid. I tried to play it for about 3 minutes, then put it back in the case. Lucky for me I've never needed to go below E. A distinct advantage to avoiding modern music.
    StevieMac likes this.
  12. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    One of my day job coworkers is a bluegrass bassist. I think he's about 5'2". He came over once and just grabbed my Kay like it was nothing and started playing it. I think my hands are about average, so I'm pretty sure that's at least a small advantage, but there are definitely many people with smaller hands who are waaaaaayyyyy better than me!
    Kubicki Fan and LBS-bass like this.
  13. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    But... are they 62 and do they have arthritis? That's the real question at this point in my life :)
  14. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    That's it. Why do we do this? It had better be fun since there's no money in it after 1990.
  15. 4stringfarley

    4stringfarley Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2015
    Cajun Country
    I have fairly small hands and recently learned that a thicker L2500 neck feels better than my smaller Jazz neck. It simply fills my hand in more allowing for a more relaxed playing technique. prior to picking up the G&L I never found a 5 string I liked, they were usually wide and flat and completely uncomfortable.
    Kubicki Fan, JRA and LBS-bass like this.
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I'm right behind ya on age, and maybe ahead of you on the joint deterioration. At some point I'll be just playing key bass and drums, I'm sure.
    JRA and LBS-bass like this.
  17. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I find that switching instruments shakes up my note choices. It must be because when I grow too accustomed to the way an instrument feels, I make choices with my hands and not my ears. Or something. In any case, I enjoy switching things up to see where it leads me. It's especially interesting to play upright on tunes where I'd normally play electric, and vice versa. Two different instruments, really.
    Thumb n Fingers and LBS-bass like this.
  18. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    That's a good way to put it. So much of what I do relies on muscle memory. I'm not a player who consciously thinks about note choices so much like "play the C# here and remember it's a minor chord, so flat the third." I'm going where my ear tells me I should go and there's no thinking involved. Maybe this is just a relic of so many years spent doing it one way, and trying to do it another way just doesn't seem comfortable.

    Nonetheless, I didn't intend this to be a thread about my "problem" but more a statement that what isn't comfortable can sometimes have unintended benefits.
    Winton and mikewalker like this.
  19. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I don't have large hands, but I worked on adapting my technique to enable me to be a better 5 string player. It's fine that you don't want to do that. It's your choice.
  20. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Again, this isn't a thread about some problem I have.
    /\/\3phist0, Winton and KJMO like this.
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